Morales set to win outright as Washington faces nightmare
After Venezuela, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina, Bolivia now veers to the left to create another headache for Washington, the more so because the man elected President in yesterday's poll has described himself as “Washington's nightmare.”
Evo Morales is the name of the coca leaf farmer who has won more than 50% of the votes in the first round of the Bolivian presidential elections. Should this be confirmed, he will be the first indigenous leader of Bolivia.
What does Evo stand for?
His speech on Sunday night in front of a crowd of ecstatic supporters was clear: "Beginning tomorrow, Bolivia's new history really begins: A history where we will seek equality, justice, equity, peace and social justice."
Morales is seen as the last hope by Bolivia's impoverished rural workers, after two right-wing administrations backed by Washington led the country to ruin, made the divide between the haves and the have nots wider and sent the impoverished and struggling into lives of misery.
Evo Morales will have to find work programmes for unemployed miners, will have to solve the problem of the Indians who were forced off their lands and will have to solve the problem with Washington over the coca leaf farmers, who claim that they have no alternative but to produce this crop, which anyway has been used as a natural product by the local population for thousands of years, while Washington favours erradication.
The eastern region of the country is rich in natural resources (Bolivia has the second largest reserve of natural gas in Latin America) and here, local oligarchs want ever more autonomy from La Paz. These could have their days numbered – Morales promised that if he was elected, he would nationalise the gas industry because the free market policies practised by his predecessors did nothing to help the poor.
Washington and Morales have an uneasy relationship – Washington considers his policy to legalise the growth of the coca leaf as being against its drugs policy while Morales describes himself as “Washington's nightmare.” But George Bush is not the President of Bolivia. He is the President of the United States of America.
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